Ag Voice | A new opportunity for education marketers
Higher education has traditionally been an area that Indian households do not shy away from spending on. Along with weddings, a good degree is one of the few things that can make the middle class Indian take substantial loans to spend well above their reach – the reason is simple: higher education is an investment, likely to pay big dividends for the individual and the family.
This disposition, coupled with India’s rapidly surging Gross Enrolment Ratio (college enrolment has improved from 12% in 2011 to well over 20% today), has led to an exponential increase in the number of places available at institutions across the country. While the above trends will continue to gather steam and GER is expected to touch 30% by 2017, this growth has not been without challenges the foremost being:
1. State and central governments are prone to increasing seats and setting up new colleges (at huge taxpayer cost) without analyzing specific needs.
2. The increase in quantity of institutions has not been accompanied by a perceived increase in quality.
This leads us to the main motivation behind higher education marketing: new and old institutes alike want to position themselves as benefitting the end-user and are keen to demonstrate the return on investment they offer to students and parents.
It is indisputable that the internet population has grown remarkably and students are consuming information online, especially for researching and gathering information on colleges.
Google revealed in 2012 that India ranked 2nd behind only the United States for education related searches. Education fairs and magazines are slowly seeing waning interest. Despite this, not all institutes have adopted online marketing as a key component of their positioning strategy. Colleges need to look beyond traditional enrollment marketing strategies with a compelling presence online. How education marketers can leverage online space to acquire students?
Target ‘Right’ channels
Gaining awareness is the crucial first step to reaching students. And the best way is to target the platforms where these students consume information from. The key is to engage with potential students on the right channels and enable them to experience great things your college has to offer.
Integration and Partnerships
According to Google, the key decision making factors for students are placement, faculty, fees and videos but several college websites continue to focus on ‘Vision’, ‘Mission’ and other self-serving content rather than offering relevant decision making points for students. One way is for colleges to register or forge partnerships with aggregators who can position them in front of the right audience to drive intent oriented actions.
This is where platforms like IndiaCollegeSearch.com come in – aggregating data from colleges, alumni and industry to give students and parents a complete picture on their return on investment via placement and fee information supplemented by faculty, photos, videos, rankings, course info and alumni reviews. Students are also increasingly using online tools and benefitting from them since they can compare multiple colleges across data points and apply instantly. Last year, the portal was used by 2.3 million college aspirants out of the almost 20 million who enrolled in college. Over 2 lakh college applications via the portal also resulted in tens of thousands of admissions across the country.
While IndiaCollegeSearch.com works with several leading B-Schools (Symbiosis, Bimtech), new age universities (Shiv Nadar University, Chandigarh University, Alliance University) and hundreds of other institutes, not everyone has caught on yet. Although, most of India’s 30K colleges, especially government ones, currently rely on “Admission Open” notices in newspapers and magazines, this trend is quickly changing. The state-run Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), which was earlier relying on traditional print media for advertising, has taken its ads online.
The college decision process has moved online and marketers need to move with it. Anirudh Motwani is the author of the article. He is Founder & Chief Executive officer of IndiaCollegeSearch.com, India’s largest online platform for college search. By Anirudh Motwani, Founder & CEO of IndiaCollegeSearch.com
About the Author:
Anirudh Motwani is the Founder & CEO of IndiaCollegeSearch.com which is the country's largest college platform used by over 2 million students and 5000 colleges. Since its inception in 2010, the company has grown its user base and revenues by over 400% each year and was awarded the Red Herring award for Top 100 Companies in Asia by growth in 2014.
As founder of India’s fastest growing education portal, Anirudh is regarded as an expert on education as well internet in the country. He has been a panelist and speaker at industry and academia events organized by TiE, FICCI and IIT Delhi and has been profiled by ET Now and CNBC TV among others. His article on policy improvements in higher education was published in a special issue of the Association of Indian Universities' journal circulated to vice chancellors and governors of state across India.